I’m curious what you do with anonymous criticism as a leader.
I never really had an official policy of how I handle anonymous criticism, but I often felt I should establish one.
I realize that growth in any organization and just being in a position of leadership welcomes critics. The larger the organizations I led grew, the more criticism I received. That’s natural. A lot of it were unsigned critiques.
Throughout my career I’ve heard people debate what they do when they receive unsigned criticism.
Let me be honest, I don’t appreciate critics who won’t sign their name, but since it’s part of leadership, here’s how I usually react:
- I listen to it (read the letter, email or comment) and if there is a forum to respond, such as with a blog post, I sometimes do. I try to still respond in love – even though I don’t feel like doing so at times.
- I try not to figure out who the anonymous commenter is. I have found it is never helpful when I do and often causes me to hold unnecessary grudges.
- I don’t give it as much weight to the criticism as when I can attach a real person to the criticism. If you want my full attention, sign your name.
- I try to figure out if there’s a reason someone felt the need to be anonymous. Have I controlled the situation too much? Have I become unapproachable? Do I stink? (It’s never bad to consider hard questions about myself.)
- I dismiss it quicker if I don’t feel it’s valid. Sorry, but Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, it’s true. (I’m less likely to dismiss criticism quickly if there’s a real person attached.)
- I try not to be the anonymous critic. If I don’t like to receive it, why dish it out to others?
I don’t think I have all the right answers. This is the just what has worked for me in leadership.
So, I’m curious, how do you respond to anonymous criticism as a leader?
- Do you read it?
- Do you ignore it?
- Do you respond to it?
- Do you take it personal?
And what should I do differently than what I currently do?